Q&A: Thomas McClure of CMH Fashion Week

Abernathy Miller, Columbus Alive

Columbus' burgeoning fashion scene is heralded as one of the industry's best-kept secrets, but CMH Fashion Week founder Thomas McClure is determined to let the secret out. Since its inception, CMH Fashion week has gained momentum with exploding attendance rates and media attention. On Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Columbus Athenaeum, five years of hard work culminates at CMH Fashion Week's finale featuring "Project Runway" finalist Althea Harper along with a slew of other talented designers in front of the largest audience the event has seen to date. But CMH Fashion Week's reach doesn't stop at the end of the catwalk. CMH Fashion Week offers scholarships for fashion students and shines a spotlight on Columbus' top talent - according to McClure, that's the whole point.

Columbus deserves a fashion week. Columbus was ranked third by The Atlantic among the top cities for fashion designers. Having L Brands headquartered here plays a large part in that, as far as hiring local designers as well as bringing in new ones. The study didn't take into account how many freelance designers call Columbus home or the corporate designers who have personal lines outside of their day jobs. I was working for Heyman Talent Artists Agency, and it became apparent Columbus is full of really talented individuals. I thought, "We have the industry, why doesn't Columbus have a fashion week?" Not only does CMH Fashion Week provide designers with a platform to show their work, but the event also adds some glamour to our city. We are topped only by New York and L.A. in terms of fashion, why not act like it?

CMH Fashion Week is a non-profit. The whole goal of CMH Fashion Week is to showcase local and emerging designers and provide scholarships to fashion students. People often don't believe we are a non-profit since the event centers on fashion, but the money we raise goes straight to putting on the event and providing scholarships. We want to help designers get their brands known so they can build their business. Everyone on the CMH Fashion Committee works their butts off for free because they believe in the mission. All the hard work pays off when we receive a letter from one of our scholarship recipients who are ecstatic they can now pursue their dreams, or a designer who tells us they've gained new clients as a result of showing their line at our event.

CMH Fashion Week is a serious event. I think there is a misconception that Columbus' fashion week can't be as serious as New York or L.A. We don't accept all designers; there is an interview process and they have to be approved by a panel. This year our featured designer is "Project Runway" alum and Ohio native Althea Harper.

Fashion is inclusive. It's difficult to convey to the public that fashion is actually an inclusive industry. If you wear clothes, you're part of the fashion community, whether you like it or not. It's important to remember that everyone has different roles to play within that community. The idea is to create a point of entry for new clientele to become acquainted with the respective designers.

People always ask me what to wear to a fashion week event. I always tell them to just be stylish. Whether your personal style is a T-shirt and jeans or an over-the-top gown, go for it. I'm always impressed by the diversity of personal styles at CMH Fashion Week events.

Thomas McClure

Age: 37

Hometown: Middle of Nowhere, Texas

Current neighborhood: Merion Village

Day job: CMH Fashion Week and Film Columbus (both non-profit organizations)

Currently listening to: Belinda Carlisle - "Goodbye Just Go"

Website: cmhfashionweek.com

Playing favorites:

Favorite movie: "Melancholia"

Favorite TV show: "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "Doctor Who"

Favorite restaurant: "I did have El Camino Inn twice this week!"

Favorite cocktail/beverage: Tommy Collins from Mouton. "It's a CMH Fashion Week signature cocktail, and it's so good!"

Favorite accessory: "My bullet necklace from Zeta Nicole Pongonis of Kewpie Dolly."

Worst fashion faux pas one can commit: "Flip-flops in the snow."

Best way to spend $10: Ramen at Rishi Sushi or Zen Cha Tea

Favorite Halloween movie: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" - "I watch it twice a year!"

CMH Fashion Week Finale

8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18

Columbus Athenaeum

32 N. Fourth St., Downtown

614-222-6338

$65-$125

cmhfashionweek.com